Friday, 22 March 2013
Rolls-Royce considers hybrids
Rolls-Royce will not be able to continue growing once capacity is reached at its factory at Goodwood.
Chief executive Torsten Müller-Ötvös said: "We made more than 3,500 cars last year but eventually we will be restricted in expansion because the factory is in a conservation area.”
He said there were “no plans” to open another plant in the UK so ultimately volume will be determined by the size of the plant.
“There is no chance that we will build the cars anywhere else because it is not what our customers expect," he said.
Müller-Ötvös became head of Rolls-Royce in April 2010 and admitted the job has been “quite a challenge” being the custodian of a brand that has become a generic term for quality and luxury. The best of almost anything is referred to as being "the Rolls-Royce".
Müller-Ötvös has been with parent group BMW since 1988.
He said the added expense of making a Rolls-Royce motor car, besides meeting customers’ bespoke needs, came from the bespoke, hand-made craftsmanship that went into the cars at Goodwood. Each car takes 450-500 hours to make and with bespoke work this can grow to 800 hours.
Finding workers with the ability for fine craftsmanship is becoming increasingly difficult.
He said: "When we first started at Goodwood we were lucky that we were able to call on some very talented people who had been involved in boat and yacht-building or furniture making but these are becoming harder to find. Whoever we take on spends a minimum three months training before they can touch one of our cars. We do offer apprenticeships and we currently have 40 at the factory."
Hybrid power trains are on the agenda although Müller-Ötvös claimed that a Rolls-Royce does have best-in segment emissions, a segment in which he includes the likes of Bentley, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
"We have to be mindful of legal and emissions requirements around the world, particularly in China, now our biggest market and where the rules are getting tougher all the time.
"A plug-in hybrid would be a sensible solution but once again, whatever we do with powertrains, there can be no compromise - the customers simply would not accept it."∎